A game of chess is a peaceful war: Sasmi Sithumsa


By Kusumanjalee Thilakarathna 

PHOTO Saman Abesiriwardana

Today on the Little Stars spotlight is a multi-talented young girl from Lyceum International School – Ratnapura. nine-year-old Sasmi Sithumsa was one of the three under-10 participants at the Fide Rapid Online World Cup 2021 chess tournament, and was able to demonstrate sharp skills at the tournament. Young Sasmi is also a skilled writer. She has written over 100 stories and recently published her first storybook; “The Seven Colours”. She has plans to publish two more books soon. Sasmi is an enthusiastic reader and says it’s her interest in reading that helps her to create stories. She studies music and also enjoys singing. 


Can you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Sasmi Sithumsa and I am nine years old. I study at Lyceum International School – Ratnapura. I am currently in Grade Five. I like reading, singing, playing chess, and writing stories. I have an older brother and I live with my parents. I have a pet cat named Toby and I consider him family too.


What is the last book you read?

“George’s Marvelous Medicine” by Roald Dahl. I was amazed reading it. It was a very funny book.


Who are your favourite authors?

I have many favourite authors: Enid Blyton, Rosie Banks, Roald Dahl, and J.K. Rowling.


So you are a Harry Potter fan too?

Yes, of course. I have read all the books.


Can you tell us about your first book; “The Seven Colours”?

When I was very young, I really liked the rainbow and I thought the fairies created it. When I was in Grade One, one day my teacher – teacher Dilani, taught me a song about the rainbow, and when I went home I wrote the story. I wrote this story in 2019, but published it in March 2021. This is one of my favourite stories from the collection of stories that I have written. So far I have written more than 100 stories.


A 100 stories is a big number for a girl your age. Since when have you been writing?

I was six years old when I first wrote down stories. But I have been creating stories since I was a toddler. I used to look at the pictures in the storybooks and build up my own stories.


Are you planning to publish more books in the future?

Yes. I have plans to publish two more books. One is a novel and the other is an encyclopedia – a knowledge book.


Can you tell us more about the encyclopedia?

It has a lot of knowledge in it about the earth, nature, and how we can protect our nature. I feel sad when people cut down trees, and that’s why I wanted to add knowledge about how we can protect our nature in my encyclopedia. I have more to work on. I want to create a big book.


When did you start playing chess?

I started playing chess following my brother and I realised that it’s a strange game that needs a lot of brainpower and strength. It is like a peaceful war. I felt happy playing chess. Then I started playing at tournaments and winning.


Can you describe your experience at the FIDE Rapid World Cup 2021?

I was competing against all the countries in the world and it was quite tough. My final game was played against an Indian. It was a very attacking game.


What are the recent international championships you have participated in?

FIDE Rapid World Cup 2021, Asian Youth Chess Championship 2021, Western Asian Chess Championship 2021, and the Asian Queen’s Chess Festival 2021.


What is your favourite piece in chess?

The Queen. It can go almost anywhere she likes – left and right, forward and backwards, and even diagonally.


How do you feel when you represent Sri Lanka at an international tournament?

I feel that if I play well, I will be able to make my country proud. I feel happy about myself too, as only a few players from the country get selected.


You are a swimmer too. 

I started swimming in Grade Two. I first practised in shallow waters. I emerged champion in the very first tournament I participated in. I couldn’t participate in any swimming competitions recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


What is your experience in speaking and announcing?

I have got medals at the school’s best speaker competitions in English and Sinhala. I have received the opportunity to do announcements at school events too.


How do you manage your time to do all these things that you do?

I sometimes stay up late to read a book. I don’t feel tired when I am doing something that I really like. All of these things that I do are like my hobbies, so I don’t really feel that these things take a lot of time. I enjoy doing all of this.


Who are your supporters?

My mom and dad, our school Principal Sulochana Herath, all my teachers, my present coach Tharaka Alahakoon, and my previous coach Rasika Samaranayake.


A friend comes to you and asks for book recommendations. What will you recommend?

I would give them something adventurous, something magical, something that gives them knowledge, and something spooky. I would also recommend my friend to read something they really like.


What is your ambition?

I want to become a scientist and a famous author. I want to write many marvellous stories. I also want to achieve a chess title.